I’ve got friends in 6 continents, colleagues that are closer than family, and enough social media followers to constitute a small army. And I feel as lonely as a hedgehog in a balloon store.
I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I just feel lonely. Left out. Like everyone else is better friends with each other than they are with me. Like they have more fun. Like I don’t really belong in this circle or that discussion. Like I’m on a totally different wavelength.
For a while I would stave off this feeling with reassurances that I was popular. That people really did want to be with me. That I really was just as much a part of the group as the next guy. But I guess I knew that even if these things were true, and they often were, it didn’t do much against the simple feeling of being lonely. And I’m left with a strange, unreasonable loneliness that I can’t explain or get rid of.
So I fight it. And my war against loneliness is fought on 3 fronts.
Denying the accuser
The first thing I had to realize was that often the thoughts of not fitting in with the others, of not being a part of things, were lies that Satan told to drive me away from the brotherhood.
Maybe there’s a grain of truth in them, maybe I really am a little on the outside, but Satan never tells us the whole truth and it was never God’s will that we should be alone.
God’s Word tells me I am loved. It tells me that I and those whom I am with were chosen from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4) For every lie that Satan comes with I can cling to God’s Word and believe that it is not His will for me to feel lonely. God will help me.
And maybe most importantly God’s Word tells me that if “we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” 1 John 1:7. Regardless of the lies Satan tells me, I know the Bible is true. If I walk in the light, I will have fellowship with my brothers.
Trusting in God
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5-6.
God is good. And I am never alone. There are countless verses of His love. He is faithful. He loves me. He is always there for me even if I feel I have nobody else.
Believing this can be a huge battle. Of course Satan tries his best to get me to doubt in the fact that God is there. But these are just more of his lies. God’s Word is true. Often when I stand in the midst of a group of friends and the waves of loneliness are crashing around me I pray to God with all of my heart.
And He hears me.
Sometimes God stretches out His hand and takes away my feelings of loneliness entirely. He lets me feel directly the warmth and love from the body of Christ. But often His help manifests itself in the strength it takes to fight. To fight against the thoughts, the lies, and the feelings that come up.
Prayer. It is a simple thing to do. But often overlooked. And having Him there to comfort and guide me, when my feelings try to tell me that no one else will, is a help beyond measure.
Being along in the body of Christ
God created the body of Christ for a reason. He wanted people to be together, to have brotherhood and fellowship with each other.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25.
I can’t let feelings keep me out of the brotherhood. Often what helps me most when I’m feeling lonely is to come together with other Christians and talk about God’s Word. When I hear about the fight against sin that my brothers are all going through then I realize that in spite of our differences, we’re really not that different. We’re all fighting the same battle. We’re all striving against sin.
It’s in fellowship where we find out how very not alone we are.
The final blow against this enemy is to be among other Christians. To really learn to love my brothers in Christ. (John 15:13) This is the key.
So instead of focusing on whether or not I fit in and am liked or accepted I can lay down my life and focus on the others.
And that is as simple as sending a text wishing someone a victorious day. Or offering to do the dishes. Taking someone out for dinner. Praying for people. Praying with people. There are many things, big and small, that I can do to lay down my life for my friends.
And laying down my life also means fighting against the suspicion, doubt, criticism, and other negative thoughts that Satan wants me to believe. It takes a battle to resist these thoughts but if I want to have fellowship with the others then I am happy to do this.
When my whole focus is “what can I do for the others” then the thoughts of loneliness shrink and disappear. And then I have victory and I am a part of the brotherhood.
And I am never alone.
The battle prize
I am still attacked by the thoughts Satan throws my way. But I fight against him. I fight to see through his lies, to draw near to God and to focus on what I can do for the others
And each day I fight I become closer to God. I become closer to the body of Christ. And those feelings of loneliness that at one point seemed so overwhelming and impossibly difficult are a little weaker than they were.
That is my hope and my longing. I will be in the body of Christ for eternity surrounded by my brothers and sisters that have fought and warred against sin for their place in heaven. That’s not loneliness. That’s brotherhood. And that eternity starts today.